Joy of Life - Chapter 677 - : Decades Of Past Events And Anger[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:38]
Chapter 677: Decades Of Past Events And Anger
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Thick and thin files lay quietly on the table in the royal study. During these few short days, they had been flipped through countless times by that pair of steady hands. Then, as if they had been forgotten, they were placed down with unusual quietness. There hadn’t been enough time for dust to cover the files, but the cool autumn breeze made their edges curl as if they had been burned by a fire.
Deep eyes slowly moved their gaze from the files toward the haziness outside, directly at the warm morning light in front of the palace. The light from the east had reached the highest brick on the Jingdou city walls but had not entered the Royal Palace, locked in darkness behind palace walls.
The Qing Emperor picked up the tea beside him and took a sip. The tea was cold. The young eunuchs who usually served by his side did not dare to come in regularly to swap it for a warm cup. An entire night had passed, so he drank cold tea. After the icy cold tea entered his body, it changed into a burning hot flow.
Was it an impossible to suppress rage? Was it the pain of being lied to by someone he trusted? Was it a feeling of humiliation that he had never experienced? That old dog had fooled him for decades.
The angrier he was, the calmer he became. The Qing Emperor was no longer as angry as he had been a few days ago. His expression and gaze were as calm as two urns of icy water, very cold, raw, and calm. It was like water that was about to freeze, absolutely cold. This sense of coldness emanated around the royal study. It made every person who stopped outside feel a fear from the depths of their hearts.
From a distance, there came a familiar sound. It was the sound of a wheelchair rolling over the stone pavements into the Royal Palace. The specially made chair rubbed continuously against the gaps in the paving stones. The width of the paving stones was fixed. The distance traveled by the wheels of the wheelchair was also fixed, so the rhythm of the wheelchair pressing against the pavement was also fixed.
This fixed rhythm had rung out countless times in the Royal Palace during for decades. Each time the Emperor had something important to do, or when he just wanted to talk, the sound of the wheelchair would travel from outside the Palace to inside the Palace, all the way to the royal study.
In recent years, the sound of the wheelchair had decreased. The old dog hid in Chen Garden and enjoyed his luxurious while he left the Emperor alone in this icy Palace to be tormented. Three years ago, when he had to deal with Yunrui and the three old creatures, the wheelchair had entered the Palace twice. The Emperor’s expression was indifferent. In a flash, he remembered many things. He slowly raised his head.
When his calm and deep gaze landed on the tightly closed door of the royal study, the sound of friction between the wheelchair and pavement also happened to stop outside the royal study. The Emperor’s gaze suddenly became complicated.
Eunuch Yao’s trembling voice rang out from the royal study. It was not that old eunuch was purposely using such a terrified voice to express his respect to the figure on the wheelchair. Rather, outside the royal study, the coldness the Emperor’s Great Grandmaster realm naturally emanated had already taken control of most people’s hearts.
The door to the royal study opened. A few eunuchs carefully and fearfully lifted the black wheelchair inside. Led by Eunuch Yao, they left as quickly as possible. This group of internal court eunuchs left the royal study and went far away. They went through the stone arch and headed straight for Taiji Palace.
Eunuch Yao wiped away the cold sweat on his forehead and glanced at Commander Ye and Scholar He waiting outside the garden door. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t even give any indications through his expression. Ye Zhong’s expression was heavy. He only sighed in his heart. After these important figures of the Qing Kingdom had escorted the black carriage into the royal study, they had all consciously hidden far away. They knew that under the Emperor’s enveloping coldness, he would not want anyone to hear a single word of the conversation he was going to have with the person in the wheelchair.
Director Chen had returned peacefully and gently. Although they were not used to such an easy solution since they knew Director Chen was not simply a terrifying figure, everyone, including Ye Zhong and Eunuch Yao, were not worried that anything startling would happen inside the royal study.
The Emperor was a Great Grandmaster. After the Dong Mountain incident, there was no one left in the world who could hurt him.
The door of the royal study was tightly closed, shutting out all the air, sounds, light, atmosphere, and sense of autumn. This left only the Emperor sitting straight up on the couch and Chen Pingping sitting casually in the wheelchair.
The ruler and official hid inside the small building and shut the storms of the Qing Kingdom outside. The storms these decades had all been caused by these two powerful people.
The Qing Emperor looked at the old man on the wheelchair until the wrinkles on Chen Pingping’s face looked like the chrysanthemum flowers by the Hanging Temple. He faintly said, “He Zongwei’s secret investigation of Gao Da to bring down Fan Xian was known to me long ago. The internal court sent three people. When you passed by Dazhou a few days ago, He Qigan should have been there. Did you see him?”
If there were others present, this scene would surprise them greatly. The Emperor had mobilized so many people that all of the important departments in Jingdou were ready to act. Even the icy young man in the Overwatch Council had begun to carry out the Emperor’s orders and put pressure on within. Only then had they invited the old cripple in the wheelchair back to Jingdou. Everyone knew that there were no more turning points between the ruler and the officials. Yet, the Emperor’s first words to Chen Pingping were an unremarkable name.
Chen Pingping was not surprised. He understood his Emperor too well. He smiled slightly and said in a slightly sharp and raspy voice, “When I was sent to King Cheng’s manor, He Qigan was still young. I saw him outside Dazhou. Presumably, he does not remember me anymore.”
“That’s not strange. The name ‘Chen Wuchang’ has disappeared for a long time inside the Royal Palace.” The Emperor nodded. A sleeve on his dragon robe flew out. A cup of tea slowly left the table and flew to Chen Pingping.
Chen Pingping accepted it and nodded his head respectfully. Holding the boiling hot tea, he sighed comfortably and said, “Tea is best drunk hot.”
The Emperor touched his finger to his icy cold teacup and took a sip. Calmly, he said, “When people leave, the tea gets cold. Otherwise, how could He Qigan not recognize you?”
Chen Pingping shook his head and said, “Other than Hong Siyang, very few people knew that I had been in the Palace before.”
The Emperor’s eyelids drooped slightly, revealing a slight sense of mockery. “Later, you even made some fake beards to stick on your chin. Of course, you don’t want people to know you were originally a eunuch.”
Chen Pingping’s expression did not change. Lowering his head slightly, he said, “I also only thought it through many years later. I am a eunuch, so why hide it from the world?”
“But, you still hid it from the world.” The Emperor put the cold teacup on the table. Staring into Chen Pingping’s eyes, he said, “When you were sent to the King’s manor, you were there to watch my father’s actions. However, even the Palace had not thought that you would secretly reveal your identity to me and be willing to help my family rise. In the end, you even managed to convince old Eunuch Hong in the back palace to stand on my father’s side. It was all your work. At the time, the identity of a eunuch was important for you, me, and the Qing Kingdom. Why have you never let go of this matter?”
“The previous Emperor’s ascension to the throne had little to do with this servant.” Chen Pingping referred to himself as a servant, but it was not the same as usual. This use of servant did not have a strong sense of inferiority. He was only relating past events and had spoken it naturally. He slowly raised his head and looked straight into the Qing Emperor’s icy eyes. “It was because someone had killed two Kings, so it came to King Cheng to sit on the throne and you to have the territory you have today. The matchless achievements…”
The Emperor’s gaze suddenly became sharp. It was clear he didn’t want to hear anything relating to this matter. “In the beginning, why did you betrayal the nobles in the Palace and give your support to my family and your loyalty to me?”
Chen Pingping looked at the Emperor with a not-quite-there smile as if looking at a massive joke. After a long time, he slowly said, “At that time, you were just a young man. You had a generous and expansive nature. You treated people sincerely and those below you well. I happen to be a person of strange nature. As long as people are good to me, I will be good to them.”
The Emperor fell silent. He sat straight on the soft couch as if savoring the words Chen Pingping said. His sharp gaze became like the long autumn days and gradually became clear. The corners of his lips quirked slightly and he said mockingly, “So, you know that I treated you well.”
“Back then, the King did not have any position in court or any support. King Cheng’s manor was not large and unremarkable. I was just the most useless eunuch in the Palace, which was why I was sent to the manor. Of course, powerful figures like Hong Siyang remained in the palace at the side of the nobles.”
Chen Pingping seemed to have remembered many things and slowly said with a sigh, “However, there were the joys of being little and simple. At that time, there were three big boys and a little one doing their best. Periodically, mother Fan would shout some things from the side. It seemed that no one thought anything bad of this.”
“King Jing was still young. Who wanted to mind him?” The Emperor raised his brows and said, “Even if Fan Jian and him joined together to fight me, in the end, they were always stopped by you. If we joined hands, no one could be a match for us. That is still the case today.”
With these words, Chen Pingping and the Emperor fell silent at the same time. After a long time, Chen Pingping gently stroked the arms of the wheelchair and said with a sigh, “In the end, Fan Jian is your milk brother while I am a servant. At the time, I didn’t think too much. I just wanted to protect you.”
The lines of the Emperor’s face gradually softened. His eyes drifted into the distance as if floating to a time where there was no disloyalty between ruler and official, when their hands were joined in collaboration. Faintly, he said, “I have to admit, during those years, you protected me many times. If it wasn’t for you, who knows how many times I would have died.”
Saying this, his glance suddenly slanted to the files on the table and paused slightly. Gently picking up the first one, he slowly opened it and looked at each thing it said, including his sister, son, and many other things.
“When the Qing Emperor first began to expand borders, it did not disturb the Wei Kingdom’s Iron Riders. We were careless. When we investigated the little Chen Kingdom’s defenses, which is now Yanjing, we were trapped on Ding Mountain by the foremost commander under Zhan Qingfeng’s banner, Hu Yue. That man was very skilled in archery…” The Emperor sighed. “After all these years, the only person who was better at archery than Hu Yue was Xiaoyi.”
When he spoke of the Northern Expedition Governor Yan Xiaoyi, who had betrayed him, the Qing Emperor’s tone carried no trace of hatred or anger. There was only pity. The Qing Emperor was someone who valued talent. He was also a man who was very confident. He did not fear Yan Xiaoyi at all, which was why he demonstrated such emotion. Looking at his arrangements for the Overwatch Council these days, in his heart, Chen Pingping was someone who exceeded any other official.
He turned his head and looked at Chen Pingping on the wheelchair. “The arrow Hu Yue fired that day… If you had not given up yourself to block it, I might have died then.”
Chen Pingping calmly replied, “This is my duty as a servant.”
The Emperor smiled self-mockingly and looked again at the file in his hand. This file was about how Chen Pingping secretly allowed the Eldest Princess’s troops to enter Jingdou and eventually surround the Royal Palace during the Jingdou rebellion three years ago. Although the Overwatch Council had done thing meticulously and there was not much actual proof in the file, given the Emperor’s intelligence, he could clearly see the evil intentions contained within.
Very casually, he tossed this file to the side, no longer paying any attention to it. Then, he picked up another and looked through it again with narrowed eyes. “At the Hanging Temple, why did you think to have the Shadow assassinate me?”
Earlier, they were still discussing calm and peaceful events of the past. Now, an accusatory voice suddenly rang out in the royal study. A faint scent of blood gradually filled the room. Chen Pingping seemed to be unaware of it and respectfully replied, “I wanted to see what your trump card was.”
“You wanted to see my trump card.” The Emperor’s gaze was fixed on the lines on Chen Pingping’s face. After a long silence, he calmly said, “Looks like you’ve wanted me to die for a long time.”
Chen Pingping did not reply. He just smiled gently and silently admitted to this great crime.
“The Shadow really is Sigu Jian’s younger brother?” the Qing Emperor asked.
“Your Majesty’s gaze is godlike. That day, you immediately guessed the Shadow’s history. It is very admirable.” Chen Pingping said he admired him, but who knew if that was true in his heart.
The Emperor closed his eyes in thought. He then threw the file to the side and said, “On the first Northern expedition, while I was breaking through the barrier, I was suddenly possessed by the devil and trapped by Zhan Qingfeng in the mountains with nowhere to go. If you had not risked your life in leading the Black Knights to the rescue and gave your body for my life along the way, I would have died many times over.”
Chen Pingping’s gaze moved with the Qing Emperor’s hand. He watched as he tossed the file concerning the truth of the assassination at the Hanging Temple to the side. The smile in his eyes grew brighter and brighter before it withered. It was incomparably lonely with a hint of mockery.
“Your Majesty, there is no need to keep going like this, sing one instance of me saving you in exchange for a time when I lied or tried to assassinate you. Regardless of whether it is the Qing law or the regulations of the Council, it is me who is at an advantage.” Chen Pingping’s expression was calm. He looked at the Emperor and coldly said, “During these decades, I can’t remember how many times I’ve saved you, but I have never thought to use these deeds to cancel out my crimes.”
“Using a great deed to exchange for a great crime,” Chen Pingping narrowed his eyes and said with slight mockery. “That was the little eunuch in the story she told back then. I am not that eunuch, and you are not the foreign Emperor. Why waste so much time?”
“You think I am wasting time?” The Emperor’s voice became icy, but his gaze burned. He stared at Chen Pingping like he was staring at a dead man. “In the hearts of the people, you are just an old dog by my side. After raising a dog for a long time, there is still affection.”
“Of course, Your Majesty has affection toward me. These years, the honor and power you have given me is not something common officials can enjoy.” Chen Pingping leaned against the wheelchair and looked at the Emperor coldly. “But talking about these things now is probably you searching for a relatively good reason for killing the dog, one that can comfort you.”
“Should you not be killed?” Despite his anger, the Qing Emperor laughed. A head-thrown-back laugh. The laugh echoed out of the royal study and flew into the silent Royal Palace. The laughter carried a rarely seen anger.
He turned and grabbed the files on his table and threw them fiercely at Chen Pingping. The files of different thickness landed on Chen Pingping’s body and wheelchair, making slapping sounds.
The Qing Emperor’s gaze became deep and cold. He stared at Chen Pingping’s face and said each word carefully, “You want to kill me. You want to kill my sons. Worst of all, you forced me to kill my own son. You shameless eunuch. Should you not be killed?”
Chen Pingping slowly brushed the pages from his body with a slight smile. He had a slight sense of joy at seeing the rare loss of control by the most powerful ruler in the world. This was probably one of his greatest wishes for his return to the capital. A hidden desire for revenge and an unspeakable disappointment and unhappiness in the Emperor that had twisted at the bottom of his heart for decades gathered together and made this old cripple’s emotions become complicated.
“Your Majesty, if you didn’t have the intention to kill your own son, how could I force you to do it?” Chen Pingping looked at the Emperor and faintly said, “When all is said and done, I only wanted to kill you. As for the members of the Li royal family, I only wanted them to keep you company in death.”
The Emperor calmed down and woke from the rare anger he had been caught in. He was an Emperor and Great Grandmaster, yet he had revealed such a mortal side of himself in front of Chen Pingping. It could only be said that the decades of interaction and trust between ruler and official had long become a psychological need the Emperor could not shake off. This psychological need had, in an instant, become an illusion. Behind this illusion, there was the poison of betrayal.
He looked at Chen Pingping coldly and said, “What makes me the most angry is not that you wanted to kill me or that you wanted to kill all of my sons. What makes me the most angry is that since you had already left Jingdou, why did you come back?”
“Even now, I had left you a way out. As long as you want to go, I will not hold you back.” The Emperor looked at him coldly. The deep and distant eyes were aged with an ancient rage. A boundless power was contained in the calmness. “If I really wanted to kill you, I would do it myself. I would not have those useless soldiers go do it. Why did you come back? Why must you force me to personally kill you?”
This was a wondrous, strange sentence. No one outside the royal study, including Commander Shi Fei, who had already returned to the Garrison Camp, would be able to guess clearly the Emperor’s thoughts. They did not know that the so-called rebellion in Dazhou was still a test between the Emperor and Chen Pingping concerning their last thread of trust.
Of the entire world, probably only Chen Pingping could understand what he meant. If he had left with the Black Knights in Dazhou, it would have meant that he felt remorse toward the Emperor and could not face him. But, he had not left. He had returned to Jingdou. Coldly and fearlessly, he looked into the Emperor’s face with no qualms, forcing him to kill the official who was believed to be the most loyal in Qing history.
After a long time, Chen Pingping’s eyes were like knives as he stared at the Emperor. “Back then, did you leave her a way out? I came back to the capital to ask you one thing. Why did you kill her?”